Do you know where the heart of your brand lies? Try looking in the mirror. Yes – it’s you. No one else is going to reflect your personal brand. Just you. So how do you shape and construct your brand so that it is you?
Technology has wrought some inescapable changes in the way others perceive us, to the point where our private and business lives overlap more than they ever have. Those companies which have made great use of smoke and mirrors in the past are finding that the new transparency is altering the way they are perceived by the public.
Make good use of the new transparency and your brand will reflect you. The following eleven points will show you exactly what we mean…
- Your personal and professional entities are no longer separate. Their convergence was started by, and is now part of the new social information age. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn – they all reflect your brand whether you are communicating about business or personal matters. You are the face of your brand and everyone can see you. Be integrated!
- Your brand, leadership style and culture are inextricably linked. You need to understand that your brand is now reflected by your business, your actions, and the people you choose to have around you. You are recognised by the culture you have created. Be congruent!
- Don’t try to separate your personal and professional spheres. There is no going back to how things once were. It doesn’t work that way any more. Use your new social transparency to establish your personal brand as the foundation of your business brand. Think of Richard Branson. Right across his far-flung network of companies he is seen as the charming, charismatic and approachable face of Virgin, in spite of the fact he has in recent years relinquished much direct contact with his companies. Be audacious!
- Stay confident. People admire self-confidence based on success and endeavour. Even when you come up against obstacles, determination will find a way past them. People admire that. It demonstrates authenticity, a key component of any brand. Believe in yourself and others will too. Be real!
- Tap into your talents. Together with authenticity and uniqueness, they are the cornerstones of your brand. People aren’t born with a specific talent. It develops from a passion for what you do and the ability to work at it until others realise you have something worth buying into. Your brand develops from the kernel of an idea to the reason for your business existence. Be passionate!
- Be bold and different. Your uniqueness – your difference – can become your brand. Think of all those trail-blazers who have dared to be different. Think Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Lady Gaga, Larry Page. They had an idea that became a product that became a sensation. They dared to be different. Be fearless!
- Be yourself, not someone else. You can’t please everyone – and why would you want to? Not everyone will share your vision, or even comprehend it. Winston Churchill summed it up perfectly. “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in your life.” Life’s lessons should already have proved to you that you may not like everyone and not everyone likes you. Why then, should you give up your individuality in an effort to please them? It doesn’t work that way. Let the fire in your belly work for you, and concentrate on retaining your vision and determination. Be distinctive!
- Nourish your idea. Think of a plant and how it grows. You started with the seed of an idea. You made use of your surroundings and talents to nurture the idea till it began to take on its own momentum. From there you gave the idea the nourishment it needed at regular intervals to keep it straight and true. Now that it’s fully grown, it’s an individual – but you gave it the start and the impetus. It’s recognisably your product and you should demonstrate your pride and belief in it. Be proud!
- Move from the intrinsic to the extrinsic. A successful brand doesn’t just suddenly appear in the marketplace. You and your self-belief are the starting point, or the intrinsic value of what you do and say. The extrinsic value comes from how you are perceived by the business community and your potential buyers. If your branding is honest and true, you are on your way to success. Be visual!
- Leadership demands accountability. Your personal brand must mirror your business brand, and in turn, be a living example of your values and your willingness to be held accountable. Accountability is a precious asset because it builds trust and loyalty from the followers of the brand. They are the ones who will pass on the message. And so it goes. Conversely, any bad business decision reflects on your brand and reputation, because you are the face of your business. All of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: ME Inc. To be in business today our most important job is to be head marketer for the Brand called YOU!.” says management guru Tom Peters Be responsible!
- Be a decent human being. It sounds so simple. How strange that not everyone takes that advice! Being known as a decent person is not only a huge brand advantage but also cool. From the simplest transaction at the shop counter to the largest of business dealings, having a reputation for decency is something that money and position can’t buy or acquire. Be cool!
Tiger Woods once said, (and he should know!) “Achievements on the golf course are not what matters, decency and honesty are what matter.”
How true. How ironic.
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken.”